Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The main objective of the present study was to examine and describe the nature of Superior–level interlanguage from the point of view of educated native speakers. Five members of the Moscow State University faculty listened to the oral proficiency interviews of six Superior–level speakers and commented on the interlanguage of those speakers. The resulting twenty–five hours of digitally– recorded interviews contain detailed responses to ever three hundred specific locutions. These detailed responses were categorized according to the interlanguage features that elicited them, yielding a profile of strengths and weaknesses. A list of recommendations for focused study was generated on the basis of that profile.

Word choice dominated both the positive and negative responses provided by the Moscow State repondents, making it the single most salient feature in the Superior–level interlanguage profile from the perspective of educated native speakers. This suggests that the single most important investment that can be made in interlanguage at the Superior level is an investment in the development of a broad, diverse, richly–textured, and well–understood vocabulary. Language learners should learn how lexical items are used, paying special attention to the semantic constraints that make words appropriate for use in one context and inappropriate in others. Additionally, they should develop separate and distinct vocabularies of specialized, domain–specific language, as well as separate and distinct vocabularies of register. As shown in this study, the appropriate and expressive use of words and phrases can serve not only to meet, but also to exceed the expectations of native speakers.

The profile of Superior–level interlanguage indicates that other interlanguage features might also benefit from prioritized attention. Word choice should receive first priority; aspect, case, and sociolinguistic competence represent a second level of priority; ellipsis, agreement, and parts of speech represent a third; and formation of words and idioms, pronunciation, word order, number, and gender represent a fourth. A detailed catalogue of the errors made by the Superior–level speakers and a list of topic–specific recommendations for language study and teaching are included in the analysis chapter; they should enable learners, teachers, and materials developers to design practical and efficient programs of study.